The Five C's Of Cinematic Analysis

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A book by Mascelli, J. V. called The Five C’s of Cinematography reveals the filming techniques of a motion picture. It is one of the most significant and influential book on filmmaking ever printed and the Five C’s which are Camera angles, Continuity, Cutting, Close-ups and composition; helps readers understand why certain visual or technical choice would trump over others.

A Research article called Attention and the Evolution of Hollywood Film by Cutting, J. E., Delong, J. E., & Nothelfer has also contributed to this thesis.The authors of this research article have investigated over 150 films with release dates from 1935 to 2005 to study in detail what grabs an audience’s attention from a psychological and scientific point of view. These
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The data from analysis will then be organised and compared to prove the theory that the digital age has changed the way stories are told through film.


The research for this thesis is carried out by watching and analysing the chariot race sequence in the films Ben-Hur (1959) by director William Wyler and Ben-Hur (2016) by director Timur Bekmambetov. The analysis is based on the knowledge obtained from academic writings both in the form of books and online articles. First, I will discuss the cinematography between Ben-Hur (1959) and Ben-Hur (2016), then we will look at an analysis of the editing between the two films. Lastly, we observe the difference in sound mixing of the chariot race sequence in the third act of both films.


First I will discuss the difference in cinematography between the two films. A film consists of many different shots. Every single shot requires the best possible viewing angle to convey the narrative to the audience. This is cinematography, the science and art of motion photography. A shot is dynamic when the camera moves to depict a moving subject during the filming of a take. In the book, The Five C's of Cinematography, author Joseph Mascelli
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Light couldn't be brought in too close to the action since the camera was very sensitive to it, so scaffolding had to be built to place the lights farther away.” pg1

As seen in the screenshots in Image 1.1, the film had high contrast and saturated colours. These were a creative choice made by the filmmakers to use the 65mm Kodak Eastman negative.

Image 1.2

In the 2016 Ben-Hur remake, the cinematography during the chariot race sequence creatively pays homage to the 1952 film by using similar angles but adds some dynamic camera movement. The digital cameras used by the director of photography, Oliver Wood, were several ARRI ALEXA Series cameras, GoPro (Woodman Labs) cameras and Red Digital Cinema cameras.

The usage of lightweight digital cameras such as GoPros and Blackmagic Micro Cinema cameras gave the filmmakers the option to create more coverage for the edit. According to an article in Wall Street Journal, these cameras were buried in the sand, attached to the chariots and even mounted on the actors.

“We had a camera on a soccer ball, sort of sitting in the middle of the track while the horses run over it,” says Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s film division.
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